Leading British designers including Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and Shrimps founder Hannah Weiland have co-signed a letter to the prime minister demanding a ban on sales of real fur in the UK.
If successful, Britain would become the first country in the world to remove real fur from its shop floors.
McCartney said: “Fur has no place in any compassionate society and today its use is unnecessary and inexcusable. Plainly, fur is immoral, cruel and barbaric”.
The letter was sent to Boris Johnson’s office on Thursday night, and outlines the designers’ ability to make clothes “without being complicit in the suffering caused by the fur trade”. Johnson has yet to acknowledge the letter. A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it would “respond in due course”.
According to the designers, there is “dwindling” interest in fur products on the UK high-street. “The sale of fur is simply not aligned with the ethical trajectory of the vast majority of retailers, designers and businesses that make up the British fashion retail industry,” the letter says. According to a report by the Humane Society International, which co-signed the letter, almost three quarters of the British public would support a UK ban on the import and sale of animal fur.
“It does surprise me when brands still make the active decision to work with real fur, especially when there are such good faux alternatives out there” says Weiland, whose faux fur coats have become signature pieces at her label, Shrimps.
The government has been under increased pressure to impose a ban on fur since leaving the EU. Last September, plans were outlined by Defra in which the UK might consider an outright ban on fur sales after Brexit. Currently, 80% of animal welfare legislation comes from EU law and with the UK leaving the single market, it has the opportunity to unilaterally ban fur sales. Defra added: “Now our future relationship with the EU has been established we have an opportunity to consider further steps we can take in relation to fur sales.”
The UK became the first country in Europe to ban fur farming in the year 2000 under Tony Blair’s government. Since then, many British fashion brands including Burberry, Victoria Beckham and McCartney’s have banned its use within their own manufacturing processes – even without legislation. Weiland adds: “I think the fashion industry has the most power in terms of making policy change”.